The first service pack for Windows Vista will be made available to public beta testers next week, CNET reports.
Microsoft also said on its Vista blog on Wednesday that it will make available a "blocker" that will allow customers who have Vista and use Windows Update to block SP1 upon its final release to allow for further testing. Microsoft offered a similar option with Windows XP Service Pack 2.
Service Pack 1 is mainly designed as a collection of bug fixes and performance improvements rather than an attempt to add new features. Among the changes that are more feature-related is the ability to use BitLocker encryption on multiple hard drive volumes as well as changes to the desktop search feature, which were made to satisfy antitrust concerns from Google.
Microsoft also said this week that it will change the way its antipiracy features work in SP1, eliminating a system in which Vista machines found not to be genuine are relegated to a near-unusable "reduced functionality mode." In its place, Microsoft will show prominent warnings and prompt those with non-genuine software to get a properly licensed copy. The new antipiracy approach will be in the final version of SP1 but is not part of the release candidate version.
The software maker has made some changes to SP1 since it began testing it earlier this year. In particular, the company has worked to reduce the size of the update as well as the amount of free space required to perform the update.
The final version of SP1 is expected in the first quarter of 2008.